The Iconic Order of the Autistic Communication-Speech Disorders

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This paper is devoted to the study of autistic speech from the perspective of iconicity. Language is a major means of human I-not-I interaction and communication. When there is affinity between content and the form designating it, this form (linguistic units and their organization) is said to be iconic to that content. Looking at the various modes of linguistic iconicity (from the phonetic level to the entire discourse, and from identity and continuity to modes of resemblance and analogy), milestone autistic denominators are detailed and analyzed as they occur in an authentic diary written over three years by a woman with autism. This article offers a look at echolalia; pronoun management; perception of affinity as exemplified in the use of kinship terms; content words vs. grammar markers, neologisms and other phenomena. These findings are then integrated to show that mutism is the most authentic – and iconic – mode enacting the traumatic autistic rupture of the delusory symbiotic state. In this premature frail encapsulation the counter-iconic use of language is in itself a pseudo use. By treating both language (phones, words, idioms, discourse, etc.) and people as things, the verbal oddities of autistic speakers authentically iconize the inauthentic inanimate stance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-30
Number of pages27
JournalLanguage and Psychoanalysis
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


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